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Big TV Brands Get Behind New HbbTV Service

By David Richards | Monday | 22/07/2013

As TV brands such as Sony and Samsung battle to deliver more direct content to their big screen TV's the Financial Review has revealed that the free to air TV industry is facing a major shakeup that will see their broadcast content delivered direct to multiple devices at once, in a move that could hurt Foxtel.

 Freeview Australia whose technology is more about getting consumers to watch advertising that skipping it is believed to be working with several TV channels Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) that could see new services rolled out next year.

Industry sources said TV manufacturers - such as Sony, Panasonic and LG - were on board to roll out HbbTV-compliant TV sets, possibly as early as late 2013. The manufacturers already make these TV sets for European markets.

The Financial Review claims that the likely developments include:

. Electronic program guides (EPGs) through which the viewer can go both backwards and forwards in time to choose programs to watch.

. New channels delivered over the internet.

. Subscription television services for niche channels or specific programs.

. Additional programming - such as out-takes or additional content - delivered over the internet.

. Targeted one-on-one advertising.

. Retail opportunities through e-commerce.

The HbbTV, technology will allow local TV networks to deliver programs and other content over both broadcast spectrum and the internet at the same time on the one TV, with the one remote control.

"Following soon after the completion of digital switchover across the country [in December], HbbTV will be the next exciting innovation for the free-to-air platform and will deliver an expanded and unparalleled television experience to all Australians, for free," Liz Ross, general manager of Freeview Australia told the AFR.

Although Australians have been able to watch the internet on TV sets for some time through smart TVs, HbbTV's breakthrough is that it offers simultaneous internet/broadcast viewing, whereas smart TVs cannot deliver both at the same time.

Germany is a key market for HbbTV, where there are now an estimated 12 million HbbTV-compliant TV sets. Seven West revealed during its investor day in May that it intends to roll out HbbTV in the June quarter of 2014.

The technology's capacity to offer EPGs could be a threat to Foxtel's IQ personal video recorder (PVR), said industry sources.

Viewers will also be able to switch seamlessly between two "screens" on one TV set, one for broadcast programming and the other for internet content.

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